Tackling today’s societal challenges: School for Business and Society official launch

News | Posted on Monday 14 November 2022

The official launch of the School for Business and Society on 10 November, attracted over 200 guests from across the UK as well as internationally. Guests attended from international partner institutions, industry partners, government departments and third sector partners, as well as staff and students from across the University.

The Vice-Chancellor, Charlie Jeffrey opened the official launch, the theme of which was Tackling Today’s Societal Challenges: How can universities collaborate with public and private sector organisations for public good? This was followed by a high-profile panel discussion, and an exhibition showcasing the breadth of research taking place within the School.

Posters displaying the breadth of research.

The panel included Sanjay Bhandari, Chair of Kick It Out; Shadi Brazell from the Impact Investing Institute; Enrich Sahan from Doughnut Economics Action Lab, and Professor Bob Doherty, Dean of the School for Business and Society. Together they discussed the grand challenges of our time and explored what can be done in collaboration by universities and the private and public sectors to address them.

Sanjay’s challenge to us was to build a culture of dialogue at universities, emphasising an important role for us in today’s culture of polarised debates. Shadi challenged us to make our civic missions, our activism, our partnerships work, logical as well as global. Enrich’s ideas around new models of business ownership, governance and financing chimed with many in the audience, and challenged us to transform and not to tweak.

Professor Bob Doherty, as our Dean, challenged us to be action-oriented, cross-sectoral, collaborative academics. Highlighting that we need academic, public, private and third sector to work together to tackle these grand challenges. Highlighting Nelson Mandell’s observation that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Bob’s closing thought was:

“Universities have always had the responsibility of preparing tomorrow’s leaders. But today this is perhaps a greater responsibility than at any time in history. We hope you can join us in this vital initiative.”

Professor Sharon Grace, gave a vote of thanks to the panel members for sharing their thoughts on how we can all collaborate most effectively to achieve public good. As well as acknowledging that in their work the panel all demonstrated that there is a different way to run organisations, across governmental, public, private and third sectors, that forefronts ethical policy and practice, and that aims for long term transformative change; values and goals we also hope to demonstrate through our work in the School for Business and Society.

The launch event took place in the Spring Lane Building, University of York.

Photos from the launch event can be viewed in an album on the School's Facebook profile

Further information

The new School for Business and Society combines and amplifies the University’s strengths in responsible business management, social and public policy, social work and public management, to create an environment that will help develop the ethical leaders of tomorrow. Continuing the City of York’s historical legacy as a leading voice for responsible business and social reform, the School is uniquely placed to lead business and public policy action to tackle complex social and environmental issues and deliver sustainable inclusive growth.